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Mandela Scholarship Fund

The Mandela Scholarship is intended for South African students, who want to study at Leiden University for one semester in order to extend their knowledge and contribute to the development of South Africa.

1 October for programmes starting in February / 1 April for programmes starting in September
Target group
Bachelor, Master
Countries/ nationalities
Permanent residents of South Africa
Scholarship type
Archaeology, Humanities, Medicine/LUMC, Governance and Global Affairs, Law, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Science, Interfacultair Centrum voor Lerarenopleiding, Onderwijsontwikkeling en Nascholing (ICLON), African Studies Centre, International Institute for Asian Studies

For who

South African students, who intend to return to South Africa and contribute to national development after their studies at Leiden University.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela

Eligibility requirements

Applicants must be:

  • permanent residents of South Africa.
  • enrolled at a South African University.
  • motivated to upgrade or extend their knowledge in order to make a contribution towards the development of South Africa.


Students must return to South Africa after their studies.

Scholarship or loan amount

Duration: one semester (maximum 5 months)

 The scholarship includes:

  • Tuition fees for a one-semester study abroad programme (if applicable)
    Note: exchange students are exempted from tuition fees on the basis of the exchange agreement
  • Living allowance: € 1000 per month
  • Insurance sponsored by AON Student Insurance and arranged by Leiden University’s Scholarships Team

Application process

  1. Submit an online application for admission for an exchange/study abroad course at Leiden University.
  2. Once you have been admitted to an exchange/study abroad course, complete the Mandela scholarship application form.
  3. Submit your completed scholarship application form as scanned email attachment to: scholarships@sea.leidenuniv.nl. Make sure to attach all required documents, namely:
    1. Exchange/study abroad admission letter from Leiden University
    2. Scholarship motivation letter
    3.  Recent transcript of records from your South African University
    4.  Up-to-date CV
    5.  Photocopy of your valid passport(s)
    6. Two original letters of recommendation (one of which should be from an academic staff member)
    7. Documentation showing the status of any other grants you have applied for
    8. Proof of sufficient funds to support yourself in the Netherlands (the Mandela scholarship does not cover all expenses). This can take form of:
      • a student grant letter showing the exact amount and duration of your grant, or
      • a recent bank statement in your name, or
      • a notary statement declaring that your parents have sufficient financial means to support you

Visit our student website for detailed information on estimated living costs.

Selection process

  • The selection committee will review all applications and select scholarship recipients on the basis of academic merit, motivation and prospects for future contribution towards the development of South Africa.
  • Candidates will be informed of the outcome by the Scholarships Team:
     - In June, for programmes beginning in September
     - In November, for programmes beginning in February  


The student is responsible for submitting a complete application, according to the steps described above and before the aforementioned deadline. Leiden University cannot be held responsible for late and/or incomplete applications.


History of the Mandela Scholarship Fund

On March 12, 1999, his Excellency President Nelson Mandela of South Africa received an Honorary Doctorate from Leiden University, the Netherlands. To mark this memorable event, Leiden University founded the Mandela Scholarship Fund. 
On receiving the award, President Mandela stated that it brought him not only great honour, but also great responsibility: “South Africans will in the coming years have to solve problems that you have faced before us. We have to build many new houses and schools, extend health care still further, and deal with crime and corruption. These challenges are even greater than those we have already overcome, and we will need all the strength that we have, and that of our friends. As much as anything, that is true also of South Africa's universities and the scientific work we are doing. A greater exchange of students will be enriching for both of our nations. On the one hand it will contribute to the development of our country and the rebirth of our continent. And on the other, we believe contact with the young people of my country will enrich and enlarge the insight that your youth has of your history and I dare say the multi-cultural character of your society."

Make a contribution

We genuinely hope that all those who are committed to President Mandela’s goal to develop and enrich South Africa, will choose to support the Mandela Study Fund. Only with your financial support will the Mandela Study Fund be able to continue educating South African students at Leiden University. With your support you will make a direct contribution to the reconstruction and further development of South Africa.

Special donations

If you would like to make a special donation or are considering leaving the Mandela Study Fund a legacy, the Rector Magnificus of Leiden University would be very pleased to schedule an appointment with you to discuss the possibilities. Please contact Student and Educational Affairs for an appointment.

How to contribute

All contributions to the Mandela Fund can be made by transferring your payment to IBAN: NL45 RABO 0161041264, in the name of Stichting Praesidium Libertatis Universiteit Leiden, mentioning Mandela Study Fund.

Key sponsor

Leiden University Fund (LUF) is the key sponsor of the Mandela Scholarship Fund.

Nelson Mandela, Leiden University 1999
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